A driver who ran two red lights and caused a crash that left his friend with profound life-changing injuries has escaped a prison sentence.
Jessie Norris was on Friday sentenced in the Bendigo Magistrates' Court to a 30-month community corrections order with 250 hours of unpaid community work for dangerous driving causing serious injury and driving while unlicensed.
He was also banned from driving for five years.
Shortly after 8pm on July 29, 2018, the unlicensed 23-year-old ran two red lights at Charing Cross and turned into the path of a semi-trailer travelling along Pall Mall.
The truck - which had a green light - smashed into the front passenger side of Norris' vehicle, where his then-21-year-old friend was sitting.
The truck driver told police he applied the brakes, but the truck still dragged the car about 20 metres.
He and his passengers - including his two children - escaped the crash uninjured.
Norris and his passenger were freed from the wreckage by emergency services.
The passenger was flown to the Royal Melbourne Hospital with injuries that included a traumatic brain injury, spinal fracture, fractured clavicle, fractured ribs and scalp lacerations.
Norris sustained a broken collarbone.
The victim continues to deal with the impact of his injuries and remains in transitional housing.
"Realistically, there is very little chance he'll be able to live an independent life in the future," Lucy Dawson, acting for the Office of Public Prosecutions, said.
Ms Dawson said the man would move back in with his parents after leaving transitional housing and would need a permanent carer.
In a victim impact statement read on her behalf to the court, the victim's mother said she would never forget the shock and terror of being told her son was critically injured in hospital.
For six weeks, she said, she did not know if he would survive, and she continued to worry about the uncertain future that lay ahead for him.
"What happened has been like one big nightmare," she said.
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Norris' defence counsel Lisa Papadinas said her client was remorseful for what happened.
"He's very sad and it's weighed on him very heavily," Ms Papadinas said.
She said Norris had made significant life changes and had kicked a drug habit, so a term of imprisonment would set him back.
A lengthy community corrections order was in range, she said.
Ms Papadinas submitted there were minimal aggravating circumstances surrounding the crash, as Norris was not travelling at high speed, had no drugs or alcohol in his system, and there was no evidence of fatigue or obvious distraction.
But prosecutor Ms Dawson said Norris' actions indicated more than a momentary lapse of attention.
"It is the Crown case that this is a gross example of inattention," she said.
Ms Dawson said a community corrections order alone was not suitable.
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In sentencing, magistrate Megan Aumair noted Norris was co-operative with police, who reported he appeared genuinely remorseful and sorry.
But she said it was an aggravating feature that Norris was driving without a licence, an offence he had earlier committed.
He had never held a learner's permit.
Ms Aumair said Norris had the capacity to work and was in a supportive relationship, and she considered his prospects of rehabilitation to be good.
She found imprisonment was not the only option and a lengthy community corrections order could meet sentencing requirements.
During his corrections order, Norris must undertake alcohol and mental health assessment and treatment as directed.
He will also be subject to supervision and judicial monitoring.
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